While Man of Steel has been a box office success, its interpretation of Superman has divided some critics and fans. In hopes of bridging this gap, I have decided write down Man of Steel’s most important scenes for further discussion. (Warning: My memory may be a tiny bit off, but I’m pretty sure this is how things went down.)
Jor-El: Our planet is dying. Clearly, the only solution is to shoot a baby into space.
Lara-El: It’s the only thing that makes sense anymore!
(Zod storms in)
Zod: Jor-El! You have stolen the Codex! Give it back!
Jor-El: Sorry. I stuck it in my baby and I’m shooting him into space.
Jor-El: Oh, yeah. We had a baby. The old-fashioned way.
Zod: What? Not from our Kryptonian Underwater Baby Tree Pods?
Zod: That’s disgusting.
Jor-El: You have no idea. Do you know where babies come out of?
Lara-El: I’m right here, dicks.
Zod: Hey, wait.
Zod: The Codex contains all the programmed genetic information of all the Kryptonian tree babies, right?
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Zod: Didn’t you do the whole childbirth thing to restart the Kryptonian race? To get it away from its programming? What the hell is your baby going to do with the Codex?
Zod: And why are you only sending one baby? Wouldn't you need at least two babies to restart the Kryptonian race without the pod babies?
(Jor-El thinks for minute, then runs into Zod’s spiky thing)
Jor-El: Oh, sorry, you killed me, but I totally had a good answer.
Zod: Wait a second. If we already have babies on pods, don’t they already have the genetic code in them? Are they empty babies? Do we really need both? This doesn’t make any fucking sense.
(guards walk in)
Guard #1: General Zod, you are under arrest for treason and for asking too many questions about our ridiculous society. You will be put in prison with your minions, which means you will be the only people who will survive Krypton blowing up. Also when Krypton blows up it’ll set you all free.
Clark Kent: I am a hobo.
(saves a bunch of people)
Clark: This reminds me of some of the great advice my father Pa Kent gave me growing up.
Young Clark: So I’m kind of thinking I should use my powers for good, to help people and stuff.
Pa Kent: HOLY SHIT NO. You must never reveal your powers to anyone! People will figure out you’re an alien! The government will take you away? Got it? You must never help anyone ever.
Young Clark: Even if it’s a schoolbus full of children about to drown?
Pa Kent: Especially if it’s a schoolbus full of children about to drown! You just sit there, and watch them drown, one by one.
Young Clark: That doesn’t seem right.
Pa Kent: And if for some reason someone else saves the bus, IT IS UP TO YOU TO PUSH THAT BUS BACK IN THAT LAKE AND MAKE SURE THOSE CHILDREN DROWN.
Young Clark: Wait, what?
Pa Kent: YOU ARE GOING TO BE A BEACON OF HOPE WHEN YOU GROW UP, CLARK, A BEACON OF HOPE THAT WATCHES CHILDREN DIE WHEN HE COULD HAVE EASILY SAVED THEM.
Young Clark: Well, pop, I’ve got some bad news. Because my schoolbus did crash into a lake, and I did save all the children. I’m sorry.
Pa Kent: GODDAMMIT. You go to your room and think about what you’ve done. And no supper!
(Clark trudges off to sad "Peanuts" theme)
Pa Kent: MARTHA, GET ME MY BOWIE KNIFE. I HAVE TO VISIT SOME CHILDREN.
(Clark wanders through an ancient Kryptonian scouting ship; Jor-El hologram appears)
Jor-El: Hey! I shot you into space when you were a baby!
Jor-El: That’s me! Okay, let me give you the lowdown. Your name is Kal-El, you’re a Kryptonian, our planet Krypton blew up, and all the Kryptonians are dead except you and our most dangerous criminal, Zod.
Clark: That’s unfortunate.
Jor-El: Also I kind of hid all of Krypton’s genetic code inside you so that you are the key to restarting the Kryptonian race and Zod’s kinda going to be looking for that.
Clark: Um, do you want me to restart the Kryptonian race?
Jor-El: I'm honestly not sure.
Clark: Then why did you stick the Codex in me?
Jor-El: In retrospect, it may have been a poor idea. On the other hand, if you do decide to start the Kryptonian race, this scout ship has a bunch of empty babies in our underwater tree pod room. All you have to do is stick the DNA right in them. There's a little hole. It's unfortunately placed, though.
Clark: Uh… I’ll pass for now.
Jor-El: Oh! I also made you a sweet costume that looks the underwear of our home planet!
Jor-El: Well, normally on Krypton we wore ornate dresses and things or elaborately overdesigned battle armor, and we wore a skintight leather suit underneath it. So that's what I made you.
Clark: Not the actual clothes? Or the battle armor?
Jor-El: Nope! Oh, and I put a cape on it too! Kryptonians often wear capes with their clothes and armor!
Clark: …but not on their underwear?
Jor-El: Oh, god no. You’d look like an idiot.
Clark: Hey. If this is a random Kryptonian spaceship from 18,000 years ago, why does it have a suit you made me with our house emblem on it inside?
(Jor-El is silent for a moment, then picks up holographic stick and jabs himself in his stomach)
Jor-El: Sorry, I’ve been stabbed! I’m dying!
Clark: You’re a hologram. You can’t die.
Jor-El: I had a really good answer, too!
Clark: I can still see you. You’re just laying down.
Clark: Fine. (leaves)
Clark: Well, a dude named Zod has arrived and demanded I surrender to him or he’s going to destroy the Earth. I wonder if my dad gave me any advice to help with this situation…
(flashback — the Kents are driving together when a tornado appears)
Pa Kent: Huh?
(everyone gets out of the car)
Pa Kent: It’s a tornado! Everybody get under that underpass:
Dog: Um, excuse me! You guys left me in the car, and I don’t have opposable thumbs. Would someone mind getting the door?
Pa Kent: Clark: Get your mother and these kids to safety!
(Clark takes mother to a nearby underpass, Pa Kent helps other perfectly able passengers exit their cars)
Dog: Hello? It’s your dog. I’m still in the fucking car here. Ruff!
(the Kents reunite under the bridge)
Ma Kent: We forgot the dog!
Dog: NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.
Pa Kent: I’ll get him!
Young Clark: You sure you don’t want me to? Because I could do it in half a second. And obviously I can’t be harmed.
Pa Kent: What have I told you? You can’t reveal your powers! Even if you're in situations when you can probably hide them!
(Pa Kent arrives at car, only to be hit by a different flying car)
Young Clark: Um, are you sure you don't want any help, dad?
Pa Kent: I’m fine! Don’t you dare save my life!
(Pa Kent manages to free the dog who escapes, but Pa's leg is broken; he obviously won’t make it back to the underpass before the tornado hits)
Dog: YOU PEOPLE ARE ASSHOLES. (runs off)
Pa Kent: Goodbye, Clark.
Young Clark: Okay, you are literally going to die. I’m coming to get you.
Pa Kent: You’ll do no such thing! I’ve told you, you must not use your powers to save people’s lives!
Young Clark: Then when in the holy fuck should I use them?
Pa Kent: I don’t know! Later sometime.
Young Clark: But not when my dad is about to die right in front of me and I could easily save him.
Pa Kent: Right.
Young Clark: Even though I could run and get you and be back in about a second, and most people would never believe their eyes thanks to the chaos of the tornado.
Pa Kent: Exactly.
Young Clark: Or I could grab you, run you someplace safe, get back here almost instantly, and we could pretend the tornado blew you someplace and you miraculously survived but without my involvement.
Pa Kent: Right. Don’t do that.
Young Clark: Look, I can’t help but feel we have a lot of solid options here that can save your life and preserve my secret simultaneously. I really don’t think this needs to happen.
Pa Kent: Don’t you sass me, boy!
Young Clark: I’m not sassing you! I just think we could avoid you dying if you weren’t being such a weirdo about it!
(the tornado starts to pick Pa Kent up)
Pa Kent: Clark!
Young Clark: Dad!
Pa Kent: Remember! Remember this one thing!
Young Clark: I will, Dad!
Pa Kent: KEEP... MURDERING... CHILDRENNNnnnnnnnnnnnnn! (Pa Kent is carried away — flashback ends)
Clark: Okay, that’s not gonna help.
(Superman arrives at military base)
Superman: Hello. I’ve come to give myself up.
Military Guy: I’m sorry, there’s been a mistake. We don’t want you, that Zod guy wants you.
Superman: I know, but I wanted to give myself up to humanity so you guys can decide whether to give me to Zod.
Military Guy: Huh. Well, thanks, I guess, but we’ve already talked it over, and we’re totally giving you to Zod.
Superman: That’s cool. Your call.
Military Guy: I mean, you’ve been Superman for like a minute, and you’ve literally done nothing for humanity other that get us threatened. We have zero reason to want to defend you at this point.
Superman: No, I get it.
Military Guy: In fact, if you just want to surrender straight to Zod, that’d be fine with us. We really don’t need to be the middle-men here.
(Zod’s ship arrives)
Faora: GIVE US KAL-EL AND THE GIRL SO THEY CAN HAVE ANOTHER SCENE TOGETHER SO WE CAN PRETEND THE KISS THEY HAVE LATER IS EVEN SLIGHTLY JUSTIFIED.
(once onboard the ship, Faora puts Lois in a cell)
Faora: STAY THERE UNTIL RUSSEL CROWE SHOWS UP.
(on the main bridge)
Zod: All right, Kal-El, let’s make this quick. I want to save the Kryptonian race, and I’m willing to be a bit of an asshole about it. What I need is the Codex you have. Oh, and this planet, too.
Superman: What do you need the planet for?
Zod: Enh, we’re going terraform it and kill all the humans to make it more like Krypton.
Superman: Really? You know that as it stands, the planet gives us super awesome powers, right? I mean, you feel shitty for a little bit first, but then you get used to and it’s awesome.
Zod: Hmm. Nah, I think I’ll just stick with the terraforming/killing all of humanity thing.
Superman: What about this: I give you the Codex, and you go guys go terraform another planet? You save the Kryptonian race, I save the Earth.
Zod: That is a great idea. But if we do that then the movie ends.
(back in the cell, Lois puts Superman’s seal in a conveniently placed prison hole)
Jor-El: Hey, thanks. I don’t know you, but I’m going to direct you to an escape pod because I’m about to change the atmosphere in here to help my kid. I’ll also explain how you can defeat Zod at a later date to justify you being part of the movie later.
Lois: Okay, I—
Jor-El: Please, no talking. We really want to minimize your character.
(shortly, as Lois’s damaged escape pod plummets to Earth)
Jor-El: I told Lois Lane how to defeat Zod and send his ship back to the Phantom Zone.
Superman: Really? Um, do you want to tell me? Since we’re here talking and all?
Superman: Save everybody some time?
Jor-El: No, I’m fine, thanks.
Superman: Both of my fathers are assholes. (flies after Lois)
Superman: Okay, Lois. You and the guy from Law & Order: SVU go do the thing my father refused to tell me how to do, and I’m going to take care of the World Engine thing in the Indian Ocean.
Lois: Really? You’re going to try to destroy the one located harmlessly in the Indian ocean… over the one that’s the middle of the largest, most densely populated city in North America?
Superman: Yes. Why do you ask?
Lois: You know that these things send out gravity pulses that annihilate buildings, killing everyone inside them, and even if they’re outside they are lifted like a hundred feet in the air and then smashed down to the ground at high velocity?
Superman: I know it’s going to kill people, Lois. That’s why I’m going to the one in the Indian Ocean. To destroy it. (Lois gives Superman a puzzled look as he flies off)
(10 minutes later in the Indian Ocean)
Superman: What the fuck is this thing made out of? Bucky Balls?
(meanwhile in Metropolis, hundreds of thousands are dead, corpses litter the streets)
Perry White: Help!
(cut to Superman)
(cut to Metropolis)
Perry White: Help!
(cut to Superman)
Superman: Who the hell are you?
Perry White: I’m Perry White. The Daily Planet guy.
Superman: Oh, yeah. You’ve been in like three scenes, and you’ve kind of been a dick in each one.
Perry White: Yes! That’s me! Can you help?
Superman: Kinda busy trying to destroy the World Engine thing, sorry.
Perry White: But I’m beloved Superman character Perry White! You have to save me!
Superman: Personally, at this point my character has never heard of you, and the audience, if they have any feelings about you whatsoever, probably don’t like you. Sorry, I’m busy.
Perry White: But there’s this girl! She’s Jenny Olson! She has the last name of a beloved Superman character! She also needs saving!
Superman: Okay, I’m pretty sure no one has ever said her name out loud so far, and I don’t think she’s had a line, either. I have no idea why they keep cutting to you guys, because I don’t know why anybody is supposed to care whether you live or die.
Perry White: Ouch. That hurts.
Superman: Well, I’m pretty sure that’s gonna hurt more.
Perry White: Huh?
(building falls on Perry White)
Superman: Hey, make sure to save me some buildings; I’m gonna need ‘em to throw Zod through later.
(Superman has Zod in a headlock)
Zod: You are such an asshole!
Superman: What did I do?
Zod: Hey, remember when you blew up that ship with all the tree pod babies? You committed genocide!
Zod: No buts! You destroyed pretty much the entire last bit of the Krypytonian race, besides you, me, and those dudes you sent back to the Phantom Zone!
Superman: Hey, you were trying to kill all of humanity with the World Engine thing!
Zod: You know why? BECAUSE I’M THE FUCKING VILLAIN. I’m evil; that’s what I do. Aren’t you supposed to be better than that?
Superman: What else was I supposed to do?
Zod: Well, you could have not destroyed my ship and concentrated on just defeating me. Then you could have restarted the Kryptonian race again and sent them to another planet or taught them to co-exist with humans or something. It wouldn’t have been that hard.
Superman: But I saved humanity!
Zod: Well, kind of. I mean, you still managed to let an area the size of Manhattan get completely annihilated. And thanks to the disaster porn-loving director, we got to see countless people getting killed, really emphasizing your inability to save them. Have you seen the estimated damage and death tolls from our final fight?
Zod: It’s fucked up, man. Hey, you know what I just realized? I only tried to commit genocide, but you accidentally succeeded at it! Nice work, dick!
Superman: Shut up! I’m dark and tortured!
Zod: And that’s the fucking problem. “Dark and tortured” and “Superman” never belong in the same sentence, unless that sentence is “Superman met his dark and tortured friend Batman for coffee.”
Superman: That’s not fair! People love Batman, and he’s dark and tortured. So why is it bad for me to do the same thing?
Zod: Because that’s the exact antithesis to what Superman is supposed to be. He’s supposed to be better than us, to inspire us, to not make the same stupid mistakes humans do. He’s supposed to have every reason to be dark and tortured, given his origin and the evil he’s seen, but he never loses his hope and optimism — not just for himself, but for the entire human race! This dumb movie has gotten one thing right, and that’s that Superman is supposed to represent hope. What hope have you actually inspired? “I hope this alien turns himself in so our planet doesn’t get destroyed?” “I hope Superman defeats that machine thing before the casualties in Metropolis hit a million?” “I hope Superman doesn’t throw Zod through my building during his fight because it would really suck to have survived the World Engine thingie and then die because Superman isn’t watching where he punches a dude?”
Zod: You know, this is total bullshit. I’m so pissed off I’m going to kill this nearby family with my heat vision.
Superman: All right, I guess I have to kill you.
Zod: No, goddammit! You don’t! I would, because I’m a fucking bad guy, but you’re supposed to be the hero! You’re supposed to find a goddamn way that solves this problem that doesn’t go against your moral code! And there are so many fucking ways you can get out of this situation without killing me! You could cover my eyes! You could fly off with me! And that’s just off the top of my head!
Superman: Well, if you really wanted to kill these people, you could, you know, just look at them.
Zod: I’m trying! You’re holding my head!
Superman: Yeah, but you know you can move your eyes without moving your head, right?
Zod: Oh. Oh yeah.
Superman: You’ve just been staring straight ahead and refusing to look around.
Zod: Okay. Admittedly, I feel kind of stupid. But that doesn’t negate that shit I said earlier!
Superman: Hey, you know what does negate it?
Superman: $130 MILLION OPENING WEEKEND BOX OFFICE, BITCH.
(Superman snaps Zod’s neck)
Superman: Like that, sirs?
Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder: Just like that.